New York Wrongful Death: When Are Punitive Damages Available?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 4, 2020

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Although awards for punitive damages in a New York wrongful death lawsuit are rare and depend upon the circumstances of how the accident happened or in what context the medical malpractice was committed, there is a section of New York law that may allow for them.

NY Wrongful Death Lawyer

Ira Slavit, a New York wrongful death attorney says that there is a statute under the Public Health Law of the State of New York that provides for a civil rights cause of action for nursing home patients. He explained:

One of the reasons they put that law into effect is that nursing homes were not held fully responsible for the injuries or deaths that they caused because of the limitation of damages recoverable under the wrongful death statute – that is the typically little if any pecuniary loss to the family of a nursing home resident. So if someone is so ill and they’re in a nursing home and then, due to neglect they pass away, lawyers would shy away from cases like that because of the law’s limitations as far as what could be recovered.

They passed the Public Health Law that provides for a private right of action when someone’s condition gets worse in a nursing home or they are not provided with sufficient nutrition or medical care when it’s required, or they develop bedsores, or their bedsores worsen. That law provides for the possibility of attorneys’ fees and punitive damages. So that’s an exception to the general rule that punitive damages are not recoverable.

Economic & Non-Economic Damages

New York law provides for both economic damages such as lost wages and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. For additional information about the types of damages which might be recoverable and New York’s limitations on those, please click here.

If your family has suffered a loss, contact an experienced wrongful death attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. You may be entitled to compensation for your loss.

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